Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rheological properties of cells measured by optical tweezers

Yareni A. Ayala, Bruno Pontes, Diney S. Ether, Luis B. Pires, Glauber R. Araujo, Susana Frases, Luciana F. Romão, Marcos Farina, Vivaldo Moura-Neto, Nathan B. Viana, H. Moysés Nussenzveig

The viscoelastic properties of cells have been investigated by a variety of techniques. However, the experimental data reported in literature for viscoelastic moduli differ by up to three orders of magnitude. This has been attributed to differences in techniques and models for cell response as well as to the natural variability of cells. In this work we develop and apply a new methodology based on optical tweezers to investigate the rheological behavior of fibroblasts, neurons and astrocytes in the frequency range from 1Hz to 35Hz, determining the storage and loss moduli of their membrane-cortex complex. To avoid distortions associated with cell probing techniques, we use a previously developed method that takes into account the influence of under bead cell thickness and bead immersion. These two parameters were carefully measured for the three cell types used. Employing the soft glass rheology model, we obtain the scaling exponent and the Young’s modulus for each cell type. The obtained viscoelastic moduli are in the order of Pa. Among the three cell types, astrocytes have the lowest elastic modulus, while neurons and fibroblasts exhibit a more solid-like behavior. Although some discrepancies with previous results remain and may be inevitable in view of natural variability, the methodology developed in this work allows us to explore the viscoelastic behavior of the membrane-cortex complex of different cell types as well as to compare their viscous and elastic moduli, obtained under identical and well-defined experimental conditions, relating them to the cell functions.

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